Industry Dialogue: Matters Arising, the Way forward and its Challenges
In its maiden edition of what has been sanctioned to become a regular industry interface between all segments of the Nigerian marketing/Advertising industry, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) as convener galvanised the entire industry to Nigerian Breweries’ Star Academy for an engaging industry deliberation which perhaps sounded some bitter truths but perceptively tends to rally the industry in the right direction.
With the theme “Together, create agenda to go forwards”, David Okeme, President ADVAN drew attention of the gathering to the fact that the “world is changing” in such as way that the digital frontier has become the “biggest influence with the millennials poised to change and alter the course of the market”.
This global reality has however shifted a sizeable part of the advertising media budget to digital. As majority of brands and practitioners are wont to join the bandwagon, the emerging consequences of the digital foray are beginning to stare practitioner in the face. Poser No. 1 according to him, aligns with legendary David Ogilvy’s theory of 50% of advertising spend is money down the drain! In line with global reality, Okeme calls it “Advertising fraud”. Despite the assumption that digital is great when considering ROI, he reveals “some people have created robots that simulate eyeballs and over $40 billion is lost to this fraud globally” and Nigeria is no exception. Similarly, Okeme’s Poser No. 2 to jerk the audience is the revelation that marketers’ “unfettered access to customers’ screens” is challenged by “ad blocking”. According to him, “ad-blocking” device is currently installed on devices by over half a billion people across the world and the number keeps growing. He sums up the consequences of these on marketing budget is wasted money, time and energy.
These and other posers perhaps set the right tone for the discussions. The first of the three discussion segments featuring Alh. Garba Bello-Kankarofi, Registrar/CEO, APCON; Tony Agenmonmen, NIMN and Onome Asagbara of Promasidor castigated the practitioners, the regulators and the training modules for marketers if any is available at all. The APCON CEO said over ¾ of the registered practitioners and fellows of the APCON are yet to pay their practice fees, this makes it difficult for the council to run flawlessly and discharge its responsibilities. He noted, “It is high time we decided on what we want to do with this profession”. Embittered, he adds, “Practitioners are not playing by the rules, some of the campaigns are not keeping to the codes”, challenging clients and their agency collaborators.
Taking off from APCON registrar’s position, Agenmonmen pointed out on the need to train and retrain practitioners across the client and agency divides to make up for the current dearth of professional knowledge and skill. He boosts, “NIMN has the knowledge base to galvanise our people so that people coming up can have the necessary mentorship, guidance and knowledge”
Asagbara came down hard on the regulators including NAFDAC, APCON, LAASA and COSON for duplication of duties and approval process which most often than not caused the business and more money and time. In line with Tony, he advises synergy and training to bridge the knowledge gap while decrying LASSA’s unknown parameters for measuring locations and its exorbitant charges.
The agency operators also had their say. Represented by Kayode Oluwasona, President, AAAN, Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas and Lanre Adisa, CEO, Noah’s Ark, the group urges for departure from the master-servant relationship as the industry moves to uncharted territory. Sounding off the needful, Steve explains that the issues started off by the regulators are “same old primordial issues”. For him, “we are going into an uncharted territory, the old ‘Tom & Jerry’ relationship will not work because it dissipates energy. Co-creation is going to be the next step”, he counsels.
Aligning with his thought with the former speaker, the AAAN president notes that the industry is a tripod, “It can only succeed if we worked together”. There is absolute need for collaboration as “knowledge is low, respect has gone down therefore all of us must come together to move the industry forward”, he reasons. Similarly, Adisa hinges his submission on co-creation as the way to go. He draws copious examples from his relationships with different clients revealing that positive turnarounds are results of mutual cooperation. “We were doing all we could but a certain brand didn’t really excite us. Just a little tweak on the side of a client side same brand started recording outstanding results”
Playing the devil’s advocate, Victor Jolaoso, Marketing Communications & Research Manager, Nigerite, holds that agencies’ accounts management teams might be responsible for the lackluster relationships between agencies and clients hence, he advises adequate training going forward. Similarly, succession plans need be taken seriously, “efforts need to be put into human capital development”.
Speaking in same vein, Bukonla Oluyadi, Head, Brand Management, First Bank observes that from pitch to implementation, thoroughness and quality control are critical factors to bring about the much desired mutually respectable and rewarding client-agency relationships.
On hand to discuss trends in media at the forum were Dr. Ken Onyeali Ikpe, MIPAN President and Emeka Okeke, CEO, Media Fuse Dentsu among others. The MIPAN president berates some clients who delight in hiring mediocre. He queries, “what does the client who hires ‘micky mouse’ agency expects? Stop hiring them and they will stop jumping around”, he counsels. He explains that while practitioners are growing arithmetically, the media is growing geometrically with data and technology taking over. The real issue is now about ‘solutioning’. According to him, setting up a proper media agency will take around N.5billion, how many people can afford this? He posits.
Okeke to the consternation of the audience presented his 10 media facts which include: In 2017, the world would remain an uncertain space; people based marketing will ride over proxy based marketing; and spends will continue to deplete while new skill sets will be required to wade through these quagmire.
In the midst of these, Emeka sees a trend of an unbundling market at a fast pace and therefore advices practitioners to invest in technology, data collection, calibration and using it to reach the last man on the street.
Reacting the submissions on media trend, Wasiu Ola Abiola, Media manager, Nigerian Breweries, discloses that retooling and skilling up have become expedient for agencies and clients in this dispensation. According to him, these are necessary because consumer attention span has become very brief, aside this, he points out, “if media managers had to deal with fragmented audience in this era of digitalization, then investments in capacity building, realistic measurement parameters and tools are not optional” for any serious minded agency and clients alike.
Against the backdrop of series of official high-handedness levied against NAFDAC, officials of the agency at the session advise clients and their agencies to desist from unsubstantiated claims, while labeling and documentation should also be taken seriously while presenting adverts for approval.
Though, OAAN was not officially represented at the dialogue, but the raging debacle between Outdoor Agencies and LAASA did not escape the attention of the gathering. Pointing out that the association is stifling from strangulating regulations from both the Federal and State governments, the gathering holds that “OAAN is the architect of their own faith”. The association is therefore, counseled to take up the matter at a competent court of law.
Referring to Babaeko’s description of the issues hand as “same old primordial issues”, the APCON Registrar/CEO, while rounding off, places the blame for the many issues in the industry on the practitioners and the comatose agency reform. “The agency reform of 2014/15 came with some conflicts”, while pointing out that enforcer of the policies cannot be seen to be partisan”, the Registrar, reveals that inspection of agencies, issuing of new licenses and revalidation of old ones as demanded by the reform had to be suspended for the last three years.
However, all hope seems not lost as the panacea is said to lie with the practitioners, “Self regulation will make it work”. On this, all seems to agree that knotty issues bothering on the media trends, agency-client relationships, issues of regulation and co-creation among other knotty can be countered with self regulation and training and manpower development.
Good talks, and good that the industry is coming together to proffer the way forward but one doubts if the body language suggested any reasoned implementation of the submissions as a cogent way out of the myriad paths confronting the industry. Who will bell the cat when APCON, the industry police has no subsisting council to deliever on its responsibilities?